The Canadian government is modernizing and improving its management of marine safety in response to the growth of overseas trade and the movement of goods through the country’s waterways.

Yesterday, the government introduced the Budget Implementation Act, which includes proposed legislative changes to the Canada Shipping Act2001 and the Marine Liability Act. These changes deliver on commitments made under the Oceans Protection Plan, which are designed to enable the government to respond to marine pollution incidents faster and more effectively and to better protect marine ecosystems and habitats.

“These proposed changes to legislation will strengthen marine environmental protection and marine safety for generations to come,” said Marc Garneau, Canada’s Minister of Transport. “As we mark the second anniversary of the launch of the Oceans Protection Plan, we renew our commitment to meaningful action to safeguard Canada’s coasts and waterways.”

Aerial view of the Bella Bella spill. Credit: Tavish Campbell.

If passed, these amendments would improve marine safety and environmental protection by:

  • modernizing Canada’s Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund, including unlimited compensation for victims and responders in the event of an oil spill from a ship;
  • strengthening the legal authority to regulate marine vessels in order to protect the marine environment, including for example to protect endangered whale populations;
  • authorizing the Minister of Transport to issue interim orders to allow for immediate actions to be taken to address a pressing risk to marine safety or to the marine environment;
  • enabling more proactive, rapid, and effective response to oil spills in Canada’s waters, while maintaining the polluter pays principle; and
  • supporting research and innovation to enhance marine safety and environmental protection.
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“The tabling of the proposed Oceans Protection Plan legislative changes clearly demonstrates our Government’s commitment to making Canada’s waters and coasts safer, cleaner, and healthier,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. “The proposed changes will make our world-leading marine safety system even stronger, bringing benefits for those who work on our waters and live on our coasts.”

Throughout 2018, First Nations, the federal government, and the Government of British Columbia have worked to implement greater protection for Canada’s coastal waters.

These proposed changes are a key element of the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways.

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